Books: A World Well Lost

AKENFIELD by Ronald Blythe. 286 pages. Pantheon. $6.95.

For generations, most Americans have regarded tradition as something to be abandoned without much regret—like a too heavy saddlebag on the Donner Pass or a jammed rifle at Shiloh. That a man should live and die in the house where he was born, that he should take up his father's trade as a matter of course—these things have signified stagnation. Change has been our commonplace, our comfort and our proof of progress.

Just lately a shift in feeling has set in. As times grow more difficult, the new looks less promising; the settled old ways...

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